Legal Affairs

As part of its advocacy work, the CCR is active in the courts, to further the rights of refugees and immigrants. This work is overseen by the CCR's Legal Affairs Committee.

Legal Affairs Committee


The goal of the CCR Legal Affairs Committee is to seek opportunities to encourage development in the law towards better protection of the human rights of refugees, immigrants and other non-citizens.

The committee can consider:

  1. encouraging strategic litigation to address policy concerns
  2. starting a legal action
  3. applying for leave for judicial review
  4. intervening at the Supreme Court of Canada and other jurisdictions.
  5. joining a coalition of other groups who are challenging a legal policy or development before the courts.
  6. launching or participating in complaints or petitions to international human rights bodies.


The members of the committee are Jennifer Stone (co-chair, Toronto), Jamie Liew (co-chair Ottawa), Jessica Chandrashekar (Executive liaison, Toronto), Sharry Aiken (Toronto), Barbara Jackman (Toronto), Asiya J. Hirji (Toronto), Erica Olmstead (Vancouver) and Kamaljit K. Lehal (Vancouver).

The Legal Affairs Committee is supported by an Ancillary Legal Support Group whose members are Laïla Demirdache (Ottawa), Phil Dawson (Montreal), Anna Purkey (Montreal), Sylvie Okros (Ottawa), Molly Joeck (Vancouver), Rick Goldman (Montreal), Nir Gepner (Toronto), Peggy Lee (Vancouver), and Pierre-André Thériault (Toronto).


Current and past cases

At the Supreme Court of Canada:

Minister of Citizenship and Immigration v. Alexander Vavilov

  • CCR represented by Jamie Liew, Gerald Heckman and Jean Lash
  • Summary: This case concerns the standard of review, in this instance in the context of the interpretation of the Citizenship Act.
  • Case number 37748
  • Hearing Decemmber 2018 - decision pending
  • CCR factum

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, et al. v. Tusif Ur Rehman Chhina

  • CCR represented by Erica Olmstead and Peter Edelmann
  • Summary: This case concerns the right to habeas corpus for persons detained under immigration legislation.
  • Case number 37770 
  • Hearing 14 November 2018 - decision pending
  • CCR factum
  • Webcast

R. v. Wong

  • CCR represented by Jared Will and Joshua Blum
  • Decision, 25 May 2018
  • Summary: This case concerns whether a person should be allowed to withdraw a guilty plea on basis that the person was unaware of the consequence of the plea on their immigration status in Canada.
  • CCR factum
  • Webcast

India v. Badesha

  • CCR (jointly with Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights and the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture) represented by Adriel Weaver and Louis Century
  • Decision, 8 September 2017
  • Summary: This case concerns the extradition of a person to a place where the person may face a risk of torture or other rights violations, and the value of diplomatic assurances offered by the extraditing State. 
  • CCR Factum

Jeyakannan Kanthasamy v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Francis Anthonimuthu Appulonappa, et al. v. Her Majesty the Queen, et al.

  • CCR represented by: Laura Best, Angus Grant, Catherine Bruce and Fadi Yachoua
  • Decision, 27 November 2015
  • Summary: This case concerns the smuggling provision of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (s. 117) which makes it an offence to knowingly aid or abet the coming into Canada of one or more persons who are not in possession of a visa, passport or other document required by that Act. At issue is whether the provision is overbroad or vague and therefore unjustifiably infringes s. 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • CCR Media Release on the Decision: Supreme Court decisions on people smuggling welcomed (27 November 2015)
  • CCR factum
  • Webcast

B306 v. Canada (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness) and Jesus Rodriguez Hernandez v. Canada (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness)

  • CCR represented by Angus Grant, Laura Best, Catherine Bruce and Fadi Yachoua
  • Joined hearing with Appulonappa (above)
  • Decision, 27 November 2015
  • Summary: This case concerns the standard of review in respect of the Immigration Division of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Board’s interpretation of s. 37(1)(b) ) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
  • CCR Media Release on the Decision: Supreme Court decisions on people smuggling welcomed (27 November 2015)
  • CCR factum
  • Webcast

Febles v. Canada (MCI), 2014 SCC 68

  • CCR represented by: Catherine Dauvergne, Angus Grant and Pia Zambelli.
  • Decision, 30 October 2014
  • Summary: This case concerns the refugee definition, specifically the exclusion clause  1F(b) which denies refugee protection on the basis of serious non-political crime.
  • CCR factum
  • Webcast

Canada (MCI) v. Harkat, 2014 SCC 37

Ezokola v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2013 SCC 40

Agraira v. Canada (Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness), 2013 SCC 36

  • CCR (jointly with CARL) represented by: John Norris and Andrew Brouwer
  • Decision, June 20 2013
  • Summary: This case concerns the interpretation of ministerial relief with respect to security inadmisssibility - i.e. when should the Minister provide an exception because the person’s presence is not detrimental to Canada’s national interest.
  • CCR + CARL factum
  • Webcast

R v Pham, 2013 SCC 15

  • CCR represented by: Barb Jackman, Carole Dahan
  • Decision, 14 March 2013
  • Summary: This case concerns immigration issues and  criminal sentencing, more precisely the consideration of unintended or collateral consequences of a criminal sentence, particularly consequences relating to the immigration status of an offender
  • CCR Factum
  • Webcast

Canada (A.G.) v. Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society, [2012] 2 SCR 524

  • CCR (jointly with CARL) represented by: Lorne Waldman, Clare Crummey and Tamara Morgenthau
  • Decision,  21 September 2012
  • Summary: The case addresses the rules about when an organization should be granted public interest standing - or in other words, allowed to challenge a law on behalf of those directly affected.
  • CCR + CARL factum
  • CCR comment on the case (Chronicle, 1 October 2012)
  • Webcast

Canada (Attorney General) v. Mavi, 2011 SCC 30, [2011] 2 S.C.R. 504

  • CCR represented by: Chantal Tie, Carole Simone Dahan and Aviva Basman.
  • Decision, 10 June 2011
  • Summary: This case raises the question of whether the government should evaluate on a case by case basis whether or not to enforce the collection of debts incurred if a person has been unable to support a family member they sponsored.
  • CCR factum
  • Webcast

Németh v. Canada (Justice), 2010 SCC 56, [2010] 3 S.C.R. 281

Charkaoui v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), [2007] 1 S.C.R. 350, 2007 SCC 9

  • CCR (jointly with ACLC, ICLMG, NARCC) represented by:  Sharry Aiken, Marie Chen and Mary Eberts.
  • Decision, 23 February 2007
  • Summary:  This case concerns the constitutionality of the security certificate procedure.
  • CCR + ACLC  + ICLMG + NARCC factum

Suresh v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), [2002] 1 S.C.R. 3, 2002 SCC 1

  • CCR represented by: Jack C. Martin and Sharry Aiken
  • Decision, 11 January 2002
  • Summary: This case addresses security certificates, the definition of security inadmissibility and deportation to torture.

R. v. Ruzic, [2001] 1 S.C.R. 687

  • CCR (jointly with CCC) represented by Marlys A. Edwardh
  • Decision,  20 April 2001
  • Summary: This case addresses the defence of duress in criminal law.

Baker v.  Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), [1999] 2 S.C.R. 817

  • CCR represented by Sheena S. Scott and Sharry Aiken
  • Decision, 9 July 1999
  • Summary: This case addressed procedural fairness issues in a humanitarian and compassionate application and the obligation to consider the best interests of affected children.

Pushpanathan v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), [1998] 1 S.C.R. 982

  • CCR represented by David Matas and Sharry Aiken
  • Decision, 4 June 1998
  • Summary: This case addresses exclusion in the refugee definition based on "acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations”.

Chan v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration), [1995] 3 S.C.R. 593

  • CCR represented by Ronald Shacter
  • Decision, 19 October 1995
  • Summary: This case deals with the refugee definition (membership in a particular social group and political opinion).

Reza v. Canada, [1994] 2 S.C.R. 394

  • CCR represented by David Matas
  • Decision, 9 June 1994
  • Summary: This case addressed whether a refused claimant can turn to a provincial court in seeking relief from deportation. 

Canada (Attorney General) v. Ward, [1993] 2 S.C.R. 689

  • CCR represented by Ronald B. Shacter and Phyllis Gordon.
  • Decision,  30 June 1993
  • Summary: This case examines the meaning of “particular social group” in the refugee definition.

Dehghani v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration), [1993] 1 S.C.R. 1053

  • CCR represented by David Matas
  • Decision, 25 March 1993
  • Summary: This case concerned whether a refugee claimant at a port of entry has a right to counsel.

At the Federal Court of Appeal:

Canada (Citizenship and Immigration) v. Kurukkal, 2010 FCA 230

  • CCR represented by: Angus Grant and Aviva Basman
  • Decision,  15 September 2010
  • Summary:  This case looks at whether a decision on a humanitarian and compassionate application can be reopened after a decision has been made, if new evidence is provided.

Canada v. Canadian Council for Refugees, 2008 FCA 229

Thamotharem v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), 2007 FCA 198 [2008] 1 FCR 385

  • CCR represented by: Catherine F. Bruce and Angus Grant.
  • Decision, 25 May 2007
  • Summary: The case deals with Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) guideline 7 which imposes as standard practice "reverse order questioning" (ROQ), i.e. that the claimant is questioned first by the Refugee Protection Officer or the Board member and only afterwards by their own counsel.
  • CCR factum
  • CCR comment on the case, Chronicle, 4 June 2007


At the Federal Court:

Huruglica vs Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, IMM-6362-13
CCR (jointly with CARL) represented by Audrey Macklin and Anthony Navaneelan
Decision, 22 August 2014
Summary: This case concerns the type of review that the Refugee Appeal Division should conduct: something similar to a judicial review, or an independent assessment of the claim?

Canadian Council for Refugees v. Canada, [2008] 3 FCR 606, 2007 FC 1262, 29 November 2007 (safe third country challenge). CCR was represented by Andrew Brouwer, Leigh Salsberg and Barbara Jackman. Memorandum filed

Other courts:

R. v. Appulonappa, 2013 BCCA 79

A.M.R.I. v. K.E.R., 2011 ONCA 417

  • CCR represented by Angus Grant.
  • Decision, 2 June 2011
  • Summary: This appeal raises the question of the rights of affected parties on an application under the Hague Convention for the return of a child to her country of origin, when the child had been accepted in Canada as a Convention refugee by reason of abuse by her mother.